Last Friday, I got to witness something so beautiful. We had grandparent’s Shabbat in our Early Childhood Center. As I looked out at the children, who were so excited to have grandmas and grandpas and other special friends with us, I realized that so many of the grandparents joining us were once bar/bat mitzvah parents. Their children have grown up, right before so many of our eyes and have started their own families. Once b’nai mitzvah at Ramat Shalom, they have continued to make our community their home. In doing so, they have brought their own babies to our Early Childhood Center, giving them the gifts of love and community that lie at the foundation of who we are.
In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob blesses his son, Joseph, saying, “I will make you into a congregation of peoples…” (Genesis 48:4) He blesses his two grandsons, Ephraim and Menasheh (Joseph’s children), saying, “With you, Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and like Menasheh,'” promising that the boys will both become great people, part of a mighty people. (Genesis 48:20) To this day, as the sun sets on Friday nights, we bless our sons with the following words, “May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh,” and our daughters with these words, “May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah,” women who are responsible for creating the global Jewish community.
There is a song by Tom Chapin that we often sing in our Early Childhood Center:
We’re a family and we’re a tree.
Our roots go down in history
From my great-great-grandparents all the way up to me,
We’re a green and growing family.
We are a green and growing family here at Ramat Shalom. I saw this firsthand last Friday at grandparent’s Shabbat. As I read this week’s Torah portion, I realized Jacob’s blessing to Joseph and grandchildren, Ephraim and Menasheh, is our reality here at the synagogue. We are a strong congregation of people whose children and grandchildren are mighty people who make us greener and stronger.